While there are a lot of talented and original singers and musicians out there, very few approach the kind of visual artistry and theatricality that Icelandic singer Björk brings to her performances. It’s no surprise that technology such as 3D printing and virtual reality, with their creative potential, should appeal to her, and her latest project is a great example of the new realm of possibilities that tech opens up. While most artists embark on tours when they release new albums, Björk’s tour to promote her latest album, Vulnicura, is completely different than your average arena-hopping tour. Björk Digital is a virtual reality tour that kicked off in Sydney at the beginning of June and will travel around the globe over the course of the next few months.
The tour, which is currently at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Tokyo, invites visitors to don a Samsung Gear VR headset and step into Björk’s world through a series of virtual reality videos that take place in starkly beautiful Icelandic landscapes – or, in one case, inside Björk’s mouth. The Tokyo exhibit opened with a live performance from Björk on June 28, and in a first-time-ever event, the performance was also live streamed in 360-degree virtual reality.
3d-printed-mask-bjorkVirtual reality isn’t the only technology Björk Digital features, however. The singer is a big fan of 3D printing, and for her performance in Tokyo, she wore a startling 3D printed mask designed and customized for her by designer Neri Oxman and the Mediated Matter Group. Oxman, whose 3D printed “wearable skins” have amazed the art world, took a different direction for this mask, designing it instead to explore what’s beneath the skin.
“I am so incredibly blown away by Neri Oxman’s work and excited to finally work with her,” said Björk. “She is a true pioneer in capturing the biological with 3D printing in such a refined and profound way. It’s been a real joy to get to know her !”
The mask is called “Rottlace,” a variation of the Icelandic word for “skinless.” Oxman and her Mediated Matter cohorts designed it by taking 3D scans of Björk’s face, which they then digitally manipulated to create a model of her bone and tissue structure. The result, printed using Stratasys‘ multi-material printing technology, is a mask with the appearance of muscle and bone in icy black and white, sculpted to Björk’s features while retaining flexibility and freedom of movement.
“Inspired by their biological counterpart and conceived as ‘muscle textiles’, the mask is a bundled, multi-material structure, providing formal and structural integrity, as well as movement to the face and neck,” said Oxman. “Multi-material 3D printing enables the production of elaborate combinations of graded properties, distributed over geometrically complex structures within a single object. With Rottlace, we designed the mask as a synthetic ‘whole without parts’.”
The mask, which Björk wore during a performance of her song “Quicksand,” was further enhanced by patterns of light projected onto it. It wasn’t the first 3D printed apparel to make an appearance during the tour ; for the opening in Sydney on June 4, Björk wore the 3D printed Pangolin dress designed by threeASFOUR and debuted earlier this year at New York Fashion Week. The dress was the first design to demonstrate Stratasys’ Nano Enhanced Elastomeric Technology material, which will be made commercially available later this year, and which was also used in the Rottlace mask, lending it its super-flexible yet strong properties.
“It’s an honor to see visionaries such as Björk embrace 3D printing for the expression of her art,” said Naomi Kaempfer, Creative Director of Art and Fashion Design at Stratasys. “This technology not only provides the freedom to produce perfect fitting costumes for the film and music industries, but also the inimitable capacity to materialize a unique fantasy to such a precise level of detail and 3D expression.”
According to Kaempfer, Oxman has been working on a larger mask collection to showcase Stratasys’ materials, to debut later this year under the title “The New Ancient.” Discuss further in the Björk 3D Printed Mask forum over at 3DPB.com.